Thursday, March 16, 2017

Conventioning - Breakout 2017

Breakout happened! There was a long list of guests and a lot of amazing games and tonnes of fun were had. That's thanks to the tireless efforts of all the volunteers from the GMs who volunteer to run events to the staff that work relentlessly to make sure everything is run as smoothly as possible. It's a great convention, and everyone I know had a great time.

That said! What did you do Jonathan?

That's a good question self.

Saturday was mostly about panels.

First Panel was on GM Troubleshooting, with Matt McFarland, Robin Laws, Anna Kreidar, and myself. I was there as a last minute replacement of the missing Emily Care Boss (who was ill) and Guest Boss (who was tending to the ill) and it went really well. It was thankfully not a lot of the standard "I hate my group and how do I make them change" but a lot of great questions in regards to preparation, and how do you feel you should structure things.

Second Panel I was just moderating but it was the State of the Industry Panel so that means it had Eric Lang, Michelle Lyons-McFarland, Robin Laws, and Jonathan Gilmour. It was a pretty good panel, with a lot of questions and only a few limited "I have a statement to show off how smart I am, but I'm going to pretend it's a question" moment. The biggest difficulty I had was that there were lots of board game questions and fewer and fewer RPG questions, so to throw things to our RPG guests I had to kind of find the RPG nugget in them and then pass them along to the RPG part of the panel. I think it was a great time, and lots of people seemed to enjoy the information and had a good time which was great.

That night I got to run a game of We Used To Be Friends with Megan, Duan, Bill and Amanda who were amazing. They were experienced players, and had been through a bunch of games together including The Watch by Anna Kreider and Andrew Medeiros which I have heard nothing but amazing things about, so that's great.

We had a Delinquent (Amanda's Zia), The Hard Boiled (Duan's Casey), The Libertine (Bill's Nadeem), The Socialite (Megan's Kobi), and my Ingenue (Sparrow). I wanted to play the Ingenue because I was interested to see how it would play and what it needs, I tend to usually play the Tech Geek because I have all the love for Mac.

Anyway, the episode mystery is that someone, my Rival Erika, got fired from her job for stealing tips and her little brother swore that she didn't do it and went to Zia for help. Zia talked to the kid for information, and Amanda rolled Gumshoe and asked "Why should I care about this" which is because someone that Zia had listed as an enemy was the person who was the first suspect and this would be a great way to bring her down. So she called Casey to help her figure this out.

Casey was at home with Sparrow because he had been kind of somewhat under "house arrest" since he ended up blowing the whistle on his cousin. Zia and Nadeem ended up showing up and Nadeem got their attention by throwing rock at the window, even though they didn't need that. Sparrow ran interference (because everyone loves him, how could you not believe him) and Zia asked for Casey's help which he was happy to give because it would give him something to get out of the house.

Nadeem got sent out to get Erika out of her house and over so that Casey, and Sparrow, could talk to her and see what's going on. They got some more clues and were going to meet up with Zia at the underground mining tunnel club that we had built when we built our town.

Kobi didn't really seem to have a spot, so Megan did the one thing that I really hoped would happen and started working on her personal mystery. Megan picked a scene where Kobi had just come home and her parents were arguing about telling her something, so she hid and tried to Gumshoe it. I think we messed up because she should have still received a clue, but she did hear something about a facility and her cliffhanger was her dad walking over to her and asking, almost shouting, "How long have you been there?"

Because there was a cliffhanger we moved on to the party where Nadeem was already there trying to flirt with the suspect. It was great because he failed to flirt and managed to get a clue anyway because the Libertine is meant to try and fail and be okay with it. But what was awesome was that the suspect (whose name escapes me) was totally aware of what Nadeem was doing and set a trap for him later and told him to meet her by the lake.

Casey and Sparrow show up, and Zia who likes to mess with Sparrow's mind drops down from the balcony above right in front terrifying Sparrow. Amanda went to the move "Sometimes I'm up all night thinking about myself" where if she does something dangerous to turn someone on. She made the 10, which means that Sparrow changed his relationship with her (it would be more than that but that's what it said at the time) and so I decided "Okay, it's Rival. You've got to stop doing that to me." And that became a thing where clearly the Delinquent had a thing for riling up the Ingenue.

This is getting long, so to quickly start summing things up. Nadeem ended up getting attacked by some guy who turned out to be the manager at the restaurant in the Casino where Erika and the suspect worked. Then he got arrested for trespassing and spent some time in a chair next to a cop while hitting on everyone.

Kobi watched it happen, and got away but fought with her friend (the suspect) about it, and then went home to do some sleuthing on her parents. She ended up finding the name of the institute they were talking about.

Casey solved the case, with help from Sparrow and Zia, and made Erika's little brother's day. Turns out that the manager was the suspects cousin. The suspect was the one stealing the tips, and the cousin didn't want to get her in trouble so he framed Erika for it.

With Sparrow, I decided to use my Rival move with Zia. Ended up getting a 10+ which means I get a bonus, so I chose take +1 forward if you challenge them. Since Zia seemed to be intent on turning that into a game of I can make you feel things I used the Ingenue's turn someone on move, which is when you act innocent or naive. Rolled a 10+.

Zia's reaction was, "I've been waiting for this for a while. My place, or yours."
Sparrow demured and said, "My mother wouldn't approve."
Zia replies, "Hot. Your place then."

And scene.

It was a great game and it showed me a few things.

A. The "What should you care" question is so good early on because it provides that kind of impetus for a lot of things. It's not as useful later on, but that's why you get to ask other questions.
B. I think I made is explicit in the text that you have to deal with a cliffhanger before a character can appear in another scene, but I think I have to go back for it.
C. I ended up going over the few casefiles that had a "turn someone on move" and made them a bit more uniform and a lot more interesting. I had originally just replaced the "give them a string" with "change your relationship"
D. The question for the mystery was so good. When we were wondering how to make clues fit, going back to the question made it way easier to figure out.
E. The personal mysteries are perfect if your character really isn't doing much with the episode. If we were able to play with it longer you can kind of have two or three stories going on at the same time and it doesn't feel like it's dragging things apart. In fact, when we started to come up with ways to get Kobi into the episode, it felt more forced than letting her explore that mystery on her own.

Sunday I ran Critical!: Go Westerly - The Importance of being Gwendolyn

I had a bunch of players who were nice, and I had Michelle playing in the game which was awesome because she was supposed to play in this game when I first wrote it. I'm glad she got to play it because it's my version of Tom Stoppard's Travesties, where you have a game that's about a situation that is also about the Importance of being Ernest.

There were quite a few laughs and while I made the mistake of booking two hours (I had a thought to run Faux Dungeon, but switched my mind in regards to the game forgot to do so and so only had 2 hours of game) rather than 3 or 4. That said, it was super amusing and a good time!

I managed to playtest a bunch of stuff, as well as get a few board game moments in. It was a very good time, and something I recommend for everyone. Seriously, if you're looking to get someone into trying out games, or trying out conventions I can't recommend Breakout enough.

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